Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – The Risk/Reward Calculation

There are approximately 120 million Americans in the full-time workforce. According to Pew Research Center nearly two-thirds of American adults age 18+ own a smartphone. If we were to extrapolate the latter statistic by applying it to the former figure, we would find that hypothetically 76,800,000 Americans use their smartphone for work purposes. With these statistics in hand, it is safe to say that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has become a popular solution across any sized enterprise. However, despite the wide-reach of BYOD, companies still report that they are struggling to properly weigh the rewards vs. costs, as they attempt to adopt the potentially money-saving Information Technology (IT) solution.

The Rewards Associated With BYOD

In 2013 best-selling author, Managing Director at TCG Advisors, and Venture Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, Geoffrey Moore, infamously argued that CIOs needed to understand that employee brain patterns change directions when they have to think about accomplishing a task versus remaining free to creatively brainstorm a solution. With this theory for support, he went on to suggest that if you give employees technology that they love to use, then employees will be able to better focus on pattern recognition and other value-adding activities, rather than wondering what button should be pressed. In his words, “The amount of redirection of neurons when you have to do that [complete an assigned task on an unfamiliar device] and the interruption in the flow of imaginative thinking is much more dramatic than people actually acknowledge.” As outlined below, BYOD embodies Moore’s line-of-thinking and provides numerous rewards:

  • BYOD allows employees to use consumer technology that they are both familiar and comfortable with
  • Using BYOD at work can create a smoother transition into the workspace, which can improve productivity levels
  • An increase in employee satisfaction has been shown to have a direct correlation to increased production and goal-oriented achievements
  • BYOD improves employee engagement levels both internally (with other employees or managers) and externally (in a client-facing environment)
  • BYOD policies can enhance recruitment efforts for the millennial generation
  • BYOD offers a viable solution to employees’ growing desire to work remotely with flexible work hours

The Costs or Risks Associated with BYOD

The inherent “cost” of BYOD IT is that it will open security risks or vulnerabilities that would not have otherwise been introduced into the work environment. Additional costs or risks that are associated with BYOD include:

  • BYOD allows employees to potentially walk security risks right in and out of the front door every day
  • IT departments must plan for new security risks. In planning for these risks, additional monies might be spent on employee training and ensuring that employee devices remain up-to-date with the latest security software
  • IT departments need to spend additional time setting up BYOD in the same way that they would set up company devices, which includes: legal, licensed software, screen locking, business-level encryption protocols, malware, spyware, and a secure program for remote system access
  • There is a greater risk that employees won’t follow proper security protocols. Cisco recently released a report which stated that only 2 out of 5 workers in the banking industry apply even the most basic of security settings to their smartphones
  • There is a greater risk that BYODs won’t meet security, governance, and compliance regulations

The use of BYOD is growing across industries; as it continues to grow so too do the associated rewards and risks. Businesses need to carefully analyze internal IT operations before they can make the decision to implement a BYOD policy.

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